Topic: Leadership


Team-Based Leadership & Decision Making with Guest Melissa Arnot

season 2, episode 12

Melissa Arnot speaking at O.C. Tanner's Influence Greatness

This episode, we talk with Melissa Arnot about team-based leadership and decision-making in high-risk environments.

Melissa Arnot is the first American woman to successfully summit and descend Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen and is second only to the infamous Lhakpa Sherpa in total summits—with a whopping 6. As a fiercely determined mountaineer, guide, and educator, Melissa has devoted her life to learning from the mountains and sharing her experience and insights with others. She’s also a co-founder of The Juniper Fund, which provides financial support to the families of local workers who die in the mountains of Nepal.

Melissa was interviewed by our very own Katie Clifford, who is perhaps the best equipped person to interview such an accomplished athlete, having worked for years with Olympic athletes as part of Team USA.

Host: Andrew Scarcella
Guest: Melissa Arnot

Topics covered:

  • How to evolve an established corporate culture to fit the 21st century
  • Embracing flexible work spaces
  • Aligning culture with business strategy
  • Enabling creativity at every level
  • Communicating cultural change effectively
  • Behaviors vs. values
  • Taking recognition global
  • Getting buy-in for cultural change
  • Vulnerability in leadership
  • Notebooks vs. iPads
  • Technology and wellbeing

Tangible Takeaways:

Now it’s time for Tangible Takeaways, where we take big ideas high into the himalayas in search of a hidden mountain dojo filled with faceless ninjas where they’re put through a series of increasingly difficult tests until they discover how to overcome their fears and become the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

• The first is that people respect their leaders more if they’re given opportunities to lead. Team-based leadership not only fosters trust and encourages vulnerability, it gives leaders much needed feedback on how individual team members respond to stress and how they like to be motivated. In Melissa’s words, with cuddles or with kicks. This kind of information is essential for a healthy team dynamic, even if that team isn’t roped together on the edge of a thousand-foot cliff making a push for the summit.

• The second is that when making decisions in a crisis, don’t try to solve everything at once—take micro-steps. Information changes fast when things are going sideways, so by the time you come up with a big, holistic solution, it might not be the right one anymore. By making small decisions, each one a small step toward your ultimate goal, you can make adjustments and corrections as you go—and you’ll avoid the dreaded decision-paralysis that can set in when things get chaotic.

• The third is that in terms of cuddles or kicks, I’ll take cuddles, every time. Some people thrive on tough love, but I prefer soft-love. The kind that says, hey, don’t take it too hard, you did your best, take what you learned from this failure and come back stronger and smarter than ever. You got this, buddy. Now go back in there and do the best you can, and remember, whatever happens we’ll always love you.

That’s it for this episode of The Work Place. If you liked it, or even if you didn’t, please rate, review, and, of course, subscribe to The Work Place on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This episode was written and produced by yours truly, with editing and original music by Daniel Foster Smith, who also composed our theme song.

If you have a burning question about workplace culture, or a story about why YOUR workplace culture is the best (or worst) send it to

The Work Place is sponsored by O.C. Tanner, the global leader in engaging workplace cultures. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud️ provides a single, modular suite of apps for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, wellbeing, leadership, and more.

If you want your organization to become a place where people can’t wait to come to work in the morning, go to

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